How to Order Coffee in France

During your trip to Paris, you will surely stop in one of the beautiful cafés for a coffee break. Ordering coffee in France might seem like an easy task; however, as with other things in France, there is a right and a wrong way of doing it.

If you step foot into a Parisian café for a French breakfast or a break during your wanderings, you will notice that the menus have somewhat confusing nomenclature for coffee, which can be difficult to understand, especially if this is your first time in Paris.

Participating in French coffee culture is unmissable, so I’m here to guide you through the spoken and unspoken rules for ordering coffee in Paris and France.

How Much is a Coffee in Paris?

Parisian Cafes - Paris

The price of a coffee in Paris depends on the type of French coffee you order and where you are. If you stop for a coffee in one of the most touristy Arrondissements of Paris, the price of the coffee will be much higher! Prices are ridiculously higher in some historic cafés in Paris, like Les Deux Magots.

A regular coffee in Paris costs around 2,75€. This is an average price, with prices from 1€ in a cheap place in a non-touristy neighborhood to 8€ or more in a fancy café or a seasonal rooftop bar.

Most of the time, drinking your coffee at the counter (le comptoir) will be cheaper than sitting down at a table. This is also a good way to chit-chat with the waiter – if he is not too busy – or the other clients next to you and practice your French.

When I opt for a takeaway coffee, I always bring my travel coffee mug. Not only is it a more eco-friendly way of life, but I can also save you some cents on my coffee 🙂

Types of French Coffee

French Coffee

Parisian cafés offer a multitude of options. Here are the most common types of coffee in France, broken down by size and with or without milk:

French Coffee Without Milk

Café: just coffee, served in a short, small cup. This is the most standard and popular French coffee. It is usually served with a glass of (tap) water.

Espresso: smaller in volume than a café but packs a bigger punch. It is usually served with a glass of (tap) water.

Déca: the short name for café décafeiné, it is presented like the café above but without caffeine.

Café Allongé: is an espresso with hot water added to make it longer. Sometimes, the waiter brings the espresso plus a pot of hot water to make it as long as you want. In some places, this is also known as a café Américain (American coffee).

French Coffee With Milk

Noisette: the short name for café noisette, is an espresso with one or two drops of milk. Noisette means hazelnut in French, so you get an idea of how much milk you’ll get in a noisette coffee.

Café crème: is a café with more milk than the noisette, served in a larger cup.

Café au lait: is coffee with milk, and there’s definitely more milk than coffee. Sometimes, it is served in a big glass. This is considered a breakfast drink so it is rare to order after 11 a.m.

I have read in some places that café au lait is like a cappuccino, but it is not. Of course, you can also order a cappuccino in most places in Paris, but it is not considered a French coffee.

Milk is milk, and milk in France always comes from cows and with all its cream. If you are looking for special kinds of milk for your coffee in Paris or France, things get more complicated. My best recommendation is to forget typical Parisian cafés and look for coffee chains for tourists like Starbucks.

“I am in Paris, and I ordered an oat milk latte, and the waiter said no.”

I posted this in our Facebook group as a joke, but you should expect a similar answer (more or less kind) from waiters in Paris.

Café Gourmand

You may have heard about the café gourmand, a dessert consisting of a coffee – usually an espresso – plus a selection of pastries and desserts in bite-sized form. The café gourmand is usually found in restaurants or bistros – but not in cafés –, as it is usually ordered after a meal.

How to Order Coffee in Paris and France

Parisian Cafe

How to order coffee in France or Paris if you want to practice your French? Here, we typically say “bonjour, un [French coffee type], s’il-vous-plaît.” I insist on the “bonjour” and “s’il-vous-plaît” bits as this is the base of any polite conversation in France.

I have friends in Paris who always want their coffee very hot. If this is your case, add “très chaud, s’il-vous-plaît” (very hot, please) at the end of the sentence.

Sugar will be offered and is labeled “sucre.” Feel free to add it to your coffee of choice. In some places, your cup of coffee can come with a small cookie or a piece of chocolate.

L’Addition, s’il-vous-plaît

Your bill will probably arrive with your order, but you’re not expected to pay until you leave. “Service compris” means the tip is included in your bill. However, a tip – even if not compulsory – is always appreciated. Read more about tipping in France.

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Quirky Parisian explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of the City of Light! Read more about me.